There’s nothing quite like walking into the kitchen to a warm, fully cooked meal that didn’t require you to hover over the stove or oven, and that’s why we love our slow cookers so much. With little to no effort on your end – just a little bit of prep and some patience – you can easily create crowd-pleasing Crock-Pot meals. Perfect for when it’s too hot to cook, you’re too busy or even when you just want a day off, slow cookers provide the help you need to make a delicious and healthy dinner any night of the week.
What is a Crock-Pot or Slow Cooker?
Let’s start with the name. “Crock-Pot” is actually a brand name and just one type of slow cooker, but the term has become so popular you’ll often find the two terms being used interchangeably. Slow cookers, or Crock-Pots, include a base with a heating element, a vessel that sits inside the element and a glass lid. The base is heated, which causes hot air to rise up the sides and into the food. The steam that’s generated from the heat creates a vacuum seal, keeping the temperature low and consistent during the cooking process. The moist heat cooks your food at a low temperature over a long period of time.
Most slow cookers have a low and high setting, ranging between 175°F to 215°F. Once the cooking timer has gone off, the slow cooker typically keeps food on a warm setting around 165°F to 175°F. A general rule of thumb is that cooking on low will take about twice as long as cooking on high.
What are the Best Things to Cook in a Crock-Pot or Slow Cooker?
This surprisingly versatile appliance can make a deeply flavorful dish from even the most budget-friendly ingredients. Because tougher, fattier meats can become melt-in-your-mouth tender when cooked in a slow cooker, cuts such as chuck roasts, short ribs, pork shoulders, lamb shanks and dark meat chicken (such as thighs and drumsticks) are all great options to try.
Easy Crock-Pot Recipes
Ready to get cooking? We’ve gathered a few of our favorite slow cooker recipes to get you started. Not only are these slow cooker meals easy to whip up, but you might just find your family’s new favorite dinner here.